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Archive for November, 2010

Good to Great v. George Bailey

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I haven’t been reading too much lately, other than law school outlines…so I thought I’d take a break and talk about a book I’m re-listening to right now in the car: Good to Great, a classic by Jim Collins.

Here’s what’s disturbing me about it: I still haven’t heard about any level 5 WOMEN leaders.  And, through my own research, I think it is because I’m starting to learn something that might just be revolutionary in my own research in my next book, which is this: women and men go about entrepreneurship for V-E-R-Y different reasons.  What are those?  Well, you’ll just have to read my next book to see! (Hey, I have to do SOME self-promotion here..!)

Furthermore, I think the old way of doing business–pure profit maximization – is dying on the vine.  We’ve seen that this isn’t the solution to the future of business.  I think the future of business HAS to look toward profit, but not at all costs.  There are things like sustainability, the community aspect of business, and environmental impacts of business that we no longer can ignore relative to profit maximization.  It is simply not sustainable anymore to look at profits as the sole driver of a “successful” company.

This time of year, I always love to watch the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, which honestly is a great holiday story about appreciating what we each have; however, there is also a very powerful story in it about business as well.  The Bailey Building and Loan wasn’t about pure profit; that was Potter’s job.  Instead, it was about creating a sustainable community, and a community where one was invested in others.  I think the George Baileys of the world are the future of business.

As for Mr. Collins, I agree with him that the Hedgehog intersection is almost right–you have to be passionate about what you do, figure out what you can do better than anyone else in the world…but as for the economic piece, it’s not just about the highest dollar.  But that’s just my opinion.  I think there has to be an element of values in there too, and I don’t really see that captured fully in the Hedgehog concept.

Stay tuned…because I think business is changing right before our eyes!

The Hometown Hero

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

This year, more than any other, I think it is important for us to think about how we give to others and how to do it in order to support the local economy.  This post talks about giving gifts locally from Indianapolis, but I’d also like all the supporters of this blog to also think about shopping locally for the holidays this year.  It is REALLY important to think through how we live (and shop) affects how those around us live…and it is truly important to understand where things come from in order to be aware of sustainable business and sustainable living this year.

I really don’t care where you live–Beijing or Bedford IN–but I would implore you to please think about how you can help your local wo/mankind this holiday season.  It really does make a difference!  Thanks for your consideration, and I hope you are enjoying your holiday week.

The Big Dig

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Today, I have to (I say have to, because it’s required) dig through my filing cabinet at work to unearth about 5 years’ worth of evaluations for one of the courses I created/am coordinating for various reasons and tally the results.  If you know me well, you also know that when it comes to filing, I’m not the neatest person in the world.

That’s probably because I’m not a past or context dweller.  I don’t really enjoy reviewing the past.  I’m much more interested in the future; however, I understand the value of doing a big dig every once in awhile, just to stop and see what one has accomplished–over a year, or five, or ten.

If you, too, have a big dig you have to conduct for a year end review – make sure you take a little time to stop and pat yourself on the back for what you’ve accomplished.  And, after that, beat yourself up a little and ask – what could I have done better?

I’m actually thinking about adding a ‘fail’ section to my own year end review this year–with the goal in mind to ascertain why I actually failed on each item, in hopes to focus on improving my failures in the future and making them successes.  I think that’s part of why we conduct the big dig over the year too.

And, if you’re just enjoying the holiday week – I will raise my glass in cheers to you, my faithful readers–who are out there rocking and doing the very best you can, with your own things–big digs, or not.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Executive Compensation: It Doesn’t Add Up

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

I find it ironic (and a sign from the universe) that I should talk about something tonight as I finish skimming my readings for closely held business orgs tonight: which is, executive compensation.

There’s a LOT about this in the CHBO class I’m taking at law school.  And, while I’m re-reading (ok, re-listening) to the updated version of Good To Great by Jim Collins, I have to remind all of us that these CEOs who are making tons o’ moolah are crying that they’ve got tough jobs, etc.  BUT–at the end of the day, the great companies studied in Jim’s book, after pouring over TONS of data – FOUND ABSOLUTELY ZERO CORRELATION BETWEEN EXECUTIVE PAY AND PERFORMANCE.

So, why the heck are we all focusing so much on executive pay, other than to say it’s outrageously high?  In fact, Collins found that good to great CEOs actually average LESS than the average for their pay relative to other CEOs.

In my opinion, most if not ALL CEOs of big companies are overpaid, UNLESS they keep the pay in line with what the lowest pay in the organization is relative to C-Suite pay.  In other countries, there isn’t this ginormous disparity between what the lowest paid person in the company makes v. the highest.  Here, is it sane to pay someone of a failing organization millions of dollars?

No!

What I’m beginning to think more and more is the secret sauce in level 5 leadership anyway is what Daniel Pink talks about in his latest book which is: intrinsic motivation.  You have to be personally fired up to do good work – if it is for yourself and/or for the company you work for.  And, as Collins has shown – great performance and intrinsic motivation just aren’t things that money can easily buy.  And while I’m a capitalist through and through – with great executives, you don’t always get what you pay for.

Slashes of the World, Unite!

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Thanks to Gnosis Arts, who allowed me the awesome opportunity to guest blog and rant about the leaders of the future: the slashes.

The New Needs A Friend

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Just finished watching Ratatouille, the movie.  I’ve seen parts of it before, but this was the first time I watched it nearly in its entirety (yes, I don’t get out much).  But it was FANTASTIC – because it combines so many things I love, like French culture, and food!

One of my favorite sticky lines in the movie comes near the end, where the critic was going over the restaurant with his review, and he states that the new needs a friend.  He also states something that I also agree with him on – that it is often very easy to criticize and judge, but much harder to create.  Especially ideas, things, food, and anything else–that is new and different.

I have to say that in this economy, I have been personally somewhat starved for the new and different.  It’s as though people are truly afraid to try new and different things.  However, the counterargument is that in the worst of times, it is often the best of times to create and try new things.  Because anytime can be a great time to have new and different on the menu.

Be a friend to the new and different if you can.  It takes guts to try new things…and the creators of the new need your support, si vous plait.

Two Big Days Rolled Into One

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Today is National Entrepreneurship Day! And, ironically, World Toilet Day…not sure what to make of that combo, but I suppose both are each equally important in their own ways.

If you know someone who is trying to start a business, please congratulate them.

I’ll leave off the toilet part.  Hopefully you know a lot of people who know how that works!

$984.00

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, called Boston, MIT researchers studied employees and their social networks at a company called IBM.  What did they find?  Well, they tried to establish value associated with the number of contacts an employee at IBM.  For every additional contact an employee had in her/his address book, it translated to a value to the organization of $984!

When I first thought – WOW!  I then thought, well, maybe this really makes sense.  Think about it.

When was the last time you connected one of your friends to another friend who potentially had a job available?  When was the last time you connected a friend in need of a place for a party, to an owner of a space FOR the party?  When was the last time you connected one friend to another for a potential business venture?

I’m starting to think that maybe, $984 per contact might even be low.  But it is impressive…and although I’m not exactly sure what year this study between MIT and IBM happened in the past, I’m pretty sure that this number is even higher today.  (This data, by the way is in Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage, as I’ve previously shared with you.)

I dig when they can put dollars and cents to the enormous value of social capital.  This translation is always something I’m fascinated by.  And whether or not you’re motivated by money…if you work in a company or own the company and want it to do better…ask yourself…how many contacts do you have, and how are you providing your network value?  Because honestly, your network is providing you AND your employer value.  ($984 or more a person’s worth…!)

Getting Your *&! Kicked

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Last night, the Butler men’s Bball game was on, but it was like watching a train wreck.  Eventually, I had to click it off.  But it reminded me, as I’ve had my very own week of challenges–that every once in awhile, if not often, it’s ok to get your *&! kicked.  Here’s why.

If you’re not failing, you’re not trying new things.  Butler men’s basketball, for example, has a relatively new and young team, and they’re coming off a pretty good run last year.  They COULD just fall back and lap in their luxury of the Horizon League.  But, do they?  No.  They’re playing bigger teams this year, with more players and bigger universities.  They are growing, pushing and challenging themselves to higher levels.

Come to think of it, my very own setbacks this week are driving me that much harder to succeed.  Success, my friends, is the very best revenge.  So when all the negative nellies are telling you no, helping you fail, or knocking you down….be sure to thank them as you get back up, again.  Because, when you do get up, dust yourself off and get back in the game, you’re going to be that much more fired up…to win and succeed.

So, next time you get your own keester kicked…be grateful!  For you’re that much closer to: success.

Companies that Support the Employee/entrepreneur: Where Are You?

Monday, November 15th, 2010

I was thinking about this today as I was having lunch with a few other aspiring and inspiring entrepreneurs: WHY aren’t big companies (and small for that matter) fostering individual employees who start businesses on the side?

Now, stick with me here.  I already know what you’re thinking: Duh!  If I’m a CEO of a fortune 500 company, why the Hades would I support people who start businesses, potentially suck time away from their day jobs, and then ultimately, if they are successful, LEAVE my company?!

I get it.  But think again: what if these people actually bring MORE to the table to the fortune 500 company by becoming entrepreneurs themselves?  Entrepreneurs can solve more problems – they seek them out (like everyone else who is good at their job) but they take things a step further by creating SOLUTIONS to those problems, and they’re not always blocked by administration, bureacracy and other junk that gets in the way of people doing better work.

Personally, I think the companies of the future that are smart, that will hire and retain the best people (at least for the short term) are companies that foster entrepreneurship in their people.  While it may sound crazy to some, I think it is crazy brilliant.  Think of all the companies out there that have yet to be created? What if big companies could actually fund and support these smaller spin off businesses WHILE retaining their bright young talent?

I’ve already noticed a few companies that are supporting this and they are some pretty big companies…and honestly, while I don’t love all of them, I do think of them more fondly BECAUSE they are aware that their employees are trying things on their own.  I WANT to work with people who are working a day job and starting a business, because they understand me.  I’m going out of my way in the future to find and work with these people as well.

So, if you’re a big cheese CEO out there with billions and billions and your ship might be sinking, think about it.  What type of souls and creatures do you want to attract into your company?  Yes wo/men, or people who might just be your future leaders, and leaders of the companies yet to come…?